Monday, 24 February 2014

A review: "Tan de repente [2002 Argentina, Netherlands]


Diego Lerman makes an assured directorial début with his neatly packaged character-study-as-comedy feature "Tan de repente" [Eng. Title: Suddenly]. Set in and around contemporary Buenos Aires, the film vividly captures a lot more than its meagre storyline, thanks to an imaginative screenplay and minimalist black and white cinematography.

Chubby, affable Marcia (Tatiana Saphir) works as shop assistant at a lingerie store that hardly appears to draw customers. Still recovering from the end to her previous relationship and desperate to get back in circulation, she attends fitness classes and readily listens to advice from anyone regarding weight issues, only to end up comforting herself with food in front of tele late at night. Her unhappy yet relatively stable world is challenged one day when she's approached on the street by two tough-looking girls with attitude, Mao and Lenin (Carla Crespo and Veronica Hassan). When Mao propositions her for sex whilst proclaiming that she isn't a lesbian, Marcia, taken aback a bit ("Shall we fuck?" being Mao's first words to her), rejects the request. So they kidnap her at knife-point, car-jack a taxi, and head off to a beach to impress Marcia, who'd never been to one.

After running out of petrol, they seek out Lenin's aging aunt (Beatriz Thibaudin) whom she hadn't seen in years, and crash at her home housing two other lodgers - painter Delia and shy medical student Felipe (María Merlino and Marcos Ferrante). What starts off in the vein of a Thelma-Louise bad-girls-on-the-road movie transforms into a riveting character study of the unlikely threesome.

While Marcia is worried about her fate, she doesn't attempt to escape even when opportunity presents itself - it's as if she was secretly longing for something like this to happen to her, or perhaps, a rebel inside her was waiting to break free of conformity to experience something different from clockwork routine. Mao is a girl with a mean streak - after having had her fun with Marcia, she suddenly looses interest and starts eyeing Felipe. When a distraught Marcia tries to leave, she'll also prove to be a big bully by trying to have her own way.

This is when the film begins to unfold unexpectedly - instead of a meek and submissive Marcia asserting herself, we rather see transformations in Mao and Lenin. Behind Mao's aggression and butch behaviour is a young woman just as lonely and craving for love as Marcia - her frailty and insecurity laid bare during the course of the film. The elderly aunt's natural warmth and positivity will bring to fore Lenin's own longing for normal family life - she left home after a fight and hasn't spoken to her mum since.

The film tries to tell us that unexpected things happen, and that we should make the most of every moment, while we can, during all our encounters and relationships. It engages by drawing us into the characters' lives and observing them beyond their defensive outward persona, without forcing any judgements upon them. It's a film that's beautiful in its simplicity - message and tone, and will appeal to those who'd like to be entertained and challenged in equal measure. Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link [PAL]



The Nudity: Paula Ituriza, Tatiana Saphir, and Carla Crespo
There are two scenes featuring nudity in the film - the first is in a shower showing Paula Ituriza and Tatiana Saphir, while the second is during a sex scene between the characters played by Tatiana Saphir and Carla Crespo.


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